Do You Have A Plan B?

White Spring Flowers

This post was first published on Angie’s original site on May 17, 2013. It is being republished here with minor updates.

My husband works in international development. We used to live in West Africa in support of that career. Even though we have moved back to the US, he still travels frequently to Africa. All those trips give us ample opportunity, for better or worse, to think about our former life. When we chat about it, I often realize “Plan B” is actually an important part of life’s journey and a very familiar topic to everyone struggling with autoimmune disease.

So first, let’s talk about “Plan A.” I don’t know about you, but to be perfectly honest, I never had a well mapped out Plan A for my life. I had some broad ideas though. I wanted to find a soul mate. I wanted to have a few kids. I wanted to find my profession, by exploring and studying a wide range of unrelated interests. (Focus is so hard! At one point I even considered a program through the global shipping giant, Maersk. I think logistics is that interesting.) And finally, I wanted to travel. Everywhere.

I know, I know. That’s such a vague “plan.” It’s like saying you want to make a salad and it requires some “botanical material” and some “liquid.” It mostly worked though. After some trial and error, I did meet my soul mate. I didn’t have a few kids. I had only one, but she was the little girl I had wanted. And my professional ambitions came together, but not at all in the way I thought they would.

So what about the travel? At last count, I’ve been to 13 foreign countries. I lived in three of those countries, once in a developed nation and twice in undeveloped nations. I had the pleasure of visiting all but four of those foreign destinations, with my daughter in tow. I had thought I would live overseas for at least 6-10 years and then just keep hopping around after that point. Here’s the thing though, autoimmune disease stopped me in my globe-trotting tracks. Illness even made some of my time aboard much more difficult than it would have otherwise been. I used to chat with other women adjusting to new cultures, especially in the developing world, and I would think to myself, “This is tough for everyone to make this leap, but I really seem to have some unusually bad days. What is my issue?”

I didn’t know it at the time, but autoimmune disease was the issue. I tried to hang on to Plan A. Like really hang on. It wasn’t until my third medical evacuation that I decided I absolutely had to go back to the US and stay put long enough to recover. I did not want to switch gears on that dream. Sometimes when my husband leaves for a trip, it breaks both our hearts.

My autoimmune struggle disrupted my plans for the size of my family and my plans for finding a profession. Hardest of all for me to accept, it disrupted my plans for travel. All those disruptions could have totally derailed me, but after doing the normal work of processing those losses for myself, I focused on the portions of Plan A that I was able to achieve and then I got to work hammering out possible Plan B’s.

Let me tell you about the Plan B I settled on. I am deepening my already awesome marriage to my soul mate. (BTW, we have “in sickness and in health” nailed.) I am doing the best possible job I can parenting my incredible one and only daughter. And finally, I have taken all the time I would have spent traveling and I’m using it to learn everything I can about healing autoimmune disease through nutrition and lifestyle approaches and I’m spreading the word. You see what I did there? I tricked illness by making it my passion.

Autoimmune disease was never part of my plan, but learning how to be versatile enough to roll with the punches was a happy unintended consequence. Adapting my dreams to better match my realities… that is my Plan B.

Tell me, have there been portions of your Plan A that you had to let go of or change? What does your Plan B look like?

About Angie Alt

Angie Alt is part of the blogging duo behind Autoimmune Paleo. She helps others take charge of their health the same way she took charge of her own after suffering with Celiac and other autoimmune diseases; one creative, nutritious meal at a time. Her special focus is on mixing “data with soul” by looking at the honest heart of the autoimmune journey (which sometimes includes curse words). She’s also a world traveler who has been medically evacuated from two foreign countries. Strategizing worst-case scenarios is now something of a hobby. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. You can also find her on Instagram.

7 comments

  • Sheri Aubrey says

    I was a 5th grade teacher when I was diagnosed with connective tissue disease. I was 51. My children were grown and out on their own. I was ready to enjoy the empty nest and all that came with it. That was 1 1/2 years ago. I was firmly entrenched in plan A. The brakes were applied to my plan A. I am now retired. It has taken while to adjust to quiet days of rest, the unknown of what lies ahead upon waking, how am I going to feel today?, can I go on this trip without having an episode?, the numerous Drs visits, the bag full of medicines and supplements, feeling like I’m being judged bc I look fine on the inside but am a train wreck on the outside, wondering when my loved ones will have had enough, etc. But I am trying to look at the am’s instead of the was’ sand be thankful that God has given me today and I feel ok enough to manage through the day!

    • Sheri Aubrey says

      Sorry, there are a few typos I found after posting.

    • Angie Alt says

      Sheri, it sounds like you are working on the new plan & that is definitely the right direction! It’s hard to leave certain intentions behind, but you may be surprised at how awesome the new plans work out. Thanks for reading!

  • Jess says

    This post came at a really good time for me. I’m having a difficult time because my autoimmune disease has really put the brakes on the career that I have spent the last 6 years preparing for. Now that I’m finally qualified to hold a job in my field, I realize that the stress that comes with it is going to significantly impede my healing. I need to learn the lesson you mention about rolling with the punches. Thank you for this! 🙂

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for reading Jess! And the best to you as you “roll with those punches.” 😉

  • Natalie says

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m thinking about my Plan B right now! Did you find with your healing you are able to travel abroad again. Or because of the Autoimmune Disease, you are unable to travel to certain places?

    • Angie Alt says

      Natalie-
      Unfortunately, since being diagnosed I haven’t had too many opportunities to travel aboard (we went to Montreal once!), but I feel very confident that when the chance comes my way I will be able to successfully navigate w/ more confidence & experience under my belt.

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